Boris Johnson not holding regular meetings with devolved administrations, Welsh first minister claims

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford during a joint press

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford during a joint press conference in 2019. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA. - Credit: PA

Wales' first minister Mark Drakeford has claimed Boris Johnson's government had failed to hold regular meetings with the devolved administrations during the coronavirus outbreak.

Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales went separate ways to England at the start of the week after Boris Johnson announced he was easing the measures and changing the messaging.

But Drakeford said a lack of 'regular rhythm' with meetings was not helping with formulating a clear plan for all corners of the UK.

He earlier told the BBC: 'We heard about the [stay alert] slogan after the decision had been made and had to make it clear that what we heard didn't persuade us that this was the right time to change the slogan or that was the right slogan to change to.

'Had we had more regular, reliable engagement we might have had better chances to talk those things through.'

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Drakeford told the latest press briefing in Wales that there had been no discussions about the lockdown with Johnson's government in the last week.

'I'm afraid this week has been one of the stops in the stop-start process,' he said.

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'Last week in the run-up to the change in the regulations we had good meetings with the UK government on four of the five days.

'I am disappointed that a whole week has gone by without any meeting of that sort. When I talked last week of the need for a regular rhythm - a predictable pattern for the way in which we engage between the different parts of the UK - it's a disappointment to me that one of only three weeks we have got has now gone by without any contact of that sort.

'What I don't want to see is a sudden splurge of contact in the few days before decisions have got to be made.

'That's not the best way to make sure that we share information, that we understand one another's perspectives and do what I've always wanted us to do, which is to move ahead together in a uniform, UK pattern.

'I hope we will see a resumption of discussions early next week because that is the way to keep the UK on the same track.'

But he said he still supports a 'four-nation approach' to the lifting of lockdown.

He said: 'The challenges we face are shared with all parts of the UK.

'For that reason, we have always strongly supported a four-nation approach to the lifting of the lockdown.

'But this has to respect the responsibilities of each government to determine the speed at which it is safe to move and the balance to be struck between different forms of 'easement' - how to prioritise between allowing people to meet up with close family, to go shopping or to the hairdresser, to get back to work or visit the seaside.

'With limited 'headroom' to ease the current restrictions, choices need to be made and we want to make those choices in consultation with our partners and the people of Wales.

'That is why we are publishing this document, not as the final word, but as part of the continuing conversation.

'But for the next two weeks, at least, I urge everyone in Wales to stick to the advice, Stay Home, Protect our NHS and Save Lives.'

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